Patients from various districts of Rajasthan Thursday joined hands for creating an awareness programme to mobilise all stakeholders, including practitioners and policy makers, to combat the growing number of hepatitis cases.
As many as 12 million people may be chronically infected in India and most are unaware of it, experts say.
Lack of awareness about the disease and its treatment, coupled with the fact that it has no visible symptoms in its early stages, has contributed to its spread, particularly in northern India.
“Viral hepatitis is rapidly becoming an epidemic due to its long gestation period and the biggest contributing factor is insufficient knowledge and awareness among the general population,” said Ramesh Roop Rai, state convener of the National Liver Foundation, and a doctor at the Fortis Escorts Hospital.
“The virus can remain in the body for years without showing any symptoms of its presence, leading to more fatal consequences,” he said.
He laid particular emphasis on involving the families of patients as an effort to prevent disease transmission and patient care.
The National Liver Foundation (NLF) is a voluntary, non-profit organisation promoting awareness and prevention of liver diseases in India. It offers help, information, and supports to those suffering from liver disease and their families.
Bobby John, executive director of the Global Health Advocates India, said: “These diseases, being silent killers, have so far not attracted the attention of the policy makers.”
Global Health Advocates India is a non-governmental organisation that focuses on engaging all sections of society to fight diseases that disproportionately affect people living in poverty, and are also the leading causes of people living in poverty.
He said greater effort needs to be made to draw the attention of policy-makers and draw up a comprehensive policy towards addressing the issue.
This article has appeared in Business Standard on March 27 2014